-- Bernie Sanders argued Saturday that Democratic voters would be less likely to participate in the general election if the primary race concluded early, resisting any suggestion he should drop out of the chase for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination.
"If you say that half the states in this country -- that they should not participate -- their response may well be on Election Day, 'You didn't want us to participate in the primary process, you know, we are not going to come out for the general election," Sanders told reporters while campaigning in southern Arizona ahead of the primary in the state.
The Vermont senator reiterated his determination to stay in the race, despite losing to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in all five states that voted this week past. He again noted that large states such as California and New York, as well as other West Coast states like Washington and Oregon where the campaign believes he will do well, still have not had their say.
"In my mind it would be extraordinarily undemocratic to tell the people that half the states in America, 'Oh, you don't have a right to get involved in the nominating process for the Democratic candidate," he continued after being asked specifically about recently reported comments from President Obama about the need for the party to come together behind a nominee.
Although Sanders faces an uphill battle in the race for the Democratic Party's nomination, he has so far objected to any suggestion that a prolonged primary race could hurt the eventual nominee. He remained steadfast in this opinion this weekend and argued instead that "good debates" and "vigorous discussion" creates interest in politics and high voter participation.
Sanders has framed his entire candidacy on the need to create what he calls a "political revolution" in which average Americans are more politically active and engaged.
Sanders conceded that his sizeable loss in Ohio was "disappointing" to him, but contended that media headlines placed too much emphasis on which candidate actually won or loss each state. Sanders pointed to the fact that his campaign gained considerable delegates in each state that voted last week as evidence that his campaign was still going strong.
Defeating Donald Trump, Sanders added, would be the top priority for Democratic voters and party elite moving forward and maintained that his appeal to independent voters made him the stronger candidate over Clinton for Democrats come November.